Removing dams boosts

brook trout population

Removing several dams from a defunct fish farm in northern Michigan restored natural conditions in 37 miles of a trout stream, which increased the native brook trout population.

Description

The Flowing Well Trout Farm, built in the mid-1900s, erected 12 small dams to create fish rearing ponds. The dams, built in the North branch of the Manistee River and the Flowing Well Creek, diverted the natural flow of a trout stream, caused unnaturally high water temperatures, blocked fish passage and disrupted the natural movement of sediment and woody debris in the river.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Blocked fish passage
  • Excessive warming of water temperatures
  • Fragmentation of a river ecosystem
  • Loss of wetlands
  • Loss of fish spawning habitat

FLOWING WELL TROUT FARM RESTORATION

People work to remove a dam

The north branch of the Manistee River before the dams were removed, preventing fish from swimming upstream. Credit: Conservation Resource Alliance

Results and Accomplishments

The project restored natural conditions in 37 miles of a trout stream, increased the native brook trout population, lowered water temperatures, eliminated sediment buildup, removed the risk of dams failing and restored 100 acres of wetlands.